Protests have erupted in Buenos Aires over the past 90 days and continue to build inside the capital as residents battle with their center-left government over sizeable amendments to social programs.
Cuts to subsidies in the energy sector based on household income already began in June.
Other subsidies, including the country’s notorious welfare program, are also on the chopping block, triggering thousands of angry residents to take to the streets.
State-sponsored aid for civilians has soared in the past 20 years, leaving 22 million Argentinians dependent on some form of government assistance.
In the first quarter of 2022, the national employment rate was 43 percent, according to government figures.
The country’s state funded programs extend to nearly every aspect of the economy, from wages to utilities, education, and health care.
Argentina already spends an estimated 800 million pesos per day—a sum of more than US$6 million—on state benefit programs.
Concurrently, inflation in the South American nation hit 58 percent in May and soared above 60 percent in July. By comparison, national inflation was just over 14 percent in 2015.
Harry Lorenzo, chief finance officer of Income Based Research, told The Epoch Times the spending habits of Argentina’s government are at the root of the escalating problem.
“The Argentine government has been grappling with a collapsing economy for some time now. The main reason for this is the government’s unsustainable spending, which has been funded in part by generous welfare programs,” Lorenzo explained.
Deeper Into Economic Chaos
Cries for more state money, freedom from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and for President Alberto Fernandez to step down echoed within the angry crowds gathered near the president’s office—Casa Rosada —during the nation’s independence day celebration on July 9.
Since then, scheduled demonstrations have continued, led by professional protest organizers or “piqueteros” demanding the abolition of the proposed subsidy cuts and a wage increase.
“This is madness. What the piqueteros are asking for is madness,” Alvaro Gomez told The Epoch Times.
Gomez has lived and worked in Buenos Aires for more than 15 years and currently is a taxi driver. As the years have passed, he’s watched his country dive deeper into economic chaos.
“I’ve seen five presidents come and go in that time; nothing has improved. Half of our country doesn’t want a job, and the ones that do, don’t want to pay the taxes for the others,” he said.